Oregon Man Charged in Murders of 3 Women

An Oregon man has been charged with murder in the deaths of three women whose bodies were found about a year ago in the northwest part of the state, the authorities said on Friday, bringing at least some answers to a case that had stoked a sense of dread across the Portland region.

The man, Jesse L. Calhoun, 39, was indicted by a grand jury on Thursday on three counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Charity Lynn Perry, 24, Bridget Leanne Webster, 31, and Joanna Speaks, 32, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said.

Mr. Calhoun was also indicted on three counts of abuse of a corpse in the second degree.

Prosecutors said that the women were found “deceased under suspicious circumstances” but did not say how they had been killed.

“Today’s indictment of Jesse Calhoun marks a significant step toward justice,” Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell of Multnomah County said at a news conference on Friday. “We recognize that until today there have been many questions, and that their deaths have caused fear and anxiety across our area, and for the families who have been waiting for answers,” she said.

From left, Charity Lynn Perry, 24, Bridget Leanne Webster, 31, and Joanna Speaks, 32.Credit…Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (left and center) Clark County Sheriff’s Office (right)

The body of Ms. Speaks, an Oregon resident, was found on April 8, 2023, at an abandoned property in Ridgefield, Wash., about 20 miles north of Portland.

The authorities said there were “indications the body was moved to this location” and that they were investigating the death as a homicide.

On April 24, Ms. Perry’s body was discovered in a culvert near Ainsworth State Park, about 35 miles east of Portland. The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said later that it was investigating the “suspicious death,” noting that Ms. Perry had frequented downtown Portland in early March.

Six days later, on April 30, Ms. Webster’s body was found near a creek in Polk County, about 70 miles southwest of Portland. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office also described Ms. Webster’s death as “suspicious,” and said that she had also been known to visit the Portland area.

It was not immediately clear what connection — if any — there had been among the three woman and Mr. Calhoun or what the motive for the killings had been. It was also unclear what evidence had linked Mr. Calhoun to the killings.

The authorities had previously said that the deaths of two other women — Kristin Smith, 22, whose body was found in February 2023; and Ashley Real, 22, whose body was found in May 2023 — appeared to be linked to the string of harrowing discoveries.

Mr. Calhoun has not been charged in their deaths but the authorities are “still very much investigating” those cases, Melissa Marrero, the senior deputy district attorney of Multnomah County, said at the news conference.

The mother of Ms. Smith, Melissa Smith, said at the news conference that she and other families had worked with detectives to crack the case, and that she remained hopeful answers regarding her daughter and Ms. Real were coming.

“We just keep going. We keep waiting. We keep praying,” she said. “We stay hopeful that we soon can get justice for them as well.”

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